Germany's Merkel voices 'shame' during 1st Auschwitz visit




  • In World
  • 2019-12-06 10:31:30Z
  • By Associated Press

OSWIECIM, Poland (AP) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced a feeling of "deep shame" during her first-ever visit on Friday to the hallowed grounds of the former Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, where Adolf Hitler's regime murdered more than a million people.

Merkel noted that her visit comes amid rising anti-Semitism and historical revisionism and vowed that Germany would not tolerate anti-Semitism. She said Germany remains committed to remembering the crimes that it committed against Jews, Poles, Roma and Sinti, homosexuals and others.

Speaking to a gathering that included former Auschwitz inmates, she said she felt "deep shame in the face of the barbaric crimes committed by Germans here."

"Nothing can bring back the people who were murdered here. Nothing can reverse the unprecedented crimes committed here. These crimes are and will remain part of German history and this history must be told over and over again," she said.

She called such responsibility a key element in German national identity today.

Merkel also brought a donation of 60 million euros ($66.6 million). The money will go to a fund to conserve the physical remnants of the site - the barracks, watchtowers and personal items like shoes and suitcases of those killed.

Together, those objects endure as evidence of German atrocities and as one of the world's most recognizable symbols of humanity's capacity for evil. But they also are deteriorating under the strain of time and mass tourism, prompting a long-term conservation effort.

Accompanied by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Merkel began by seeing a crematorium and walking under the gate with the notorious words "Arbeit Macht Frei." That was a cynical phrase that meant "work will set you free," when the truth was that inmates were subjected to either immediate execution, painful scientific experiments or forced labor.

Merkel and Morawiecki went next to the site of executions, where they bowed their heads before two wreaths bearing their nations' colors. The stay lasting several hours also included a visit to the conservation laboratory, where old leather shoes were laid out on a table, a nd a laying of candles at Birkenau, the part of the vast complex where Jews were subjected to mass murder in gas chambers.

The donation to the Auschwitz Foundation comes in addition to 60 million euros that Germany donated when the fund was launched a decade ago, according to the Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum.

That brings the total German donation to 120 million euros and makes Germany by far the most generous of 38 countries that have contributed. As with the earlier donation, half comes from the federal government and half from the German states, an acknowledgement of the German nation's responsibility.

Since becoming chancellor in 2005, Merkel has paid her respects at other Nazi concentration camps, and she has been five times to Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust museum and memorial.

Still, Poland's Foreign Ministry called her visit "historic," in an obvious acknowledgement of the unique status Auschwitz has in the world's collective memory. The ministry also noted that it was just the third visit of an incumbent head of a German government.

Nazi German forces killed an estimated 1.1 million people at the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex during their occupation of Poland during World War II. Most of the victims were Jews transported from across Europe to be killed in gas chambers. But tens of thousands of others were killed there too, including Poles, Soviet prisoners of war and Roma, or Gypsies. The camp was liberated by the Soviet army on Jan. 27, 1945.

____

Gera reported from Warsaw.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Germany
Germany 'could face 19,200 infections a day', warns Merkel
  • World
  • 2020-09-28 13:43:51Z

Angela Merkel is reportedly worried Germany is not doing enough to contain the coronavirus and infections could spiral out of control. "If we don't get on top of this, we could see 19,200 infections a day by Christmas", she warned party allies privately on Monday, according to reports in German media. She expressed particular concern over rapidly rising infections in the German capital, saying: "Something has to be done about Berlin". Mrs Merkel has yet to speak publicly of her concerns, which emerged in details of a private conference call leaked to the German press. But the leaked comments suggested she is set to press for new restrictions on daily life in Germany in coronavirus talks...

Russia
Russia's Navalny visited by German chancellor in hospital
  • US
  • 2020-09-28 09:23:03Z

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Monday confirmed reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited him in a Berlin hospital where he was being treated for what German authorities determined was nerve agent poisoning. "There was a meeting, but one shouldn't call it secret," Navalny said in a tweet, referring to media reports alleging that Merkel made a secret visit to the Charite hospital where he remained for 32 days.

Merkel: Coronavirus infections could hit 19,200 a day in Germany - Bild
Merkel: Coronavirus infections could hit 19,200 a day in Germany - Bild
  • US
  • 2020-09-28 08:50:15Z

Chancellor Angela Merkel told the leadership of her party on Monday that coronavirus infections could hit 19,200 per day in Germany if the current trend continues but stressed that the economy must be kept running, Bild newspaper reported. Infections have been generally rising in Germany for weeks. Data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 1,192 on Monday compared to Sunday.

Merkel privately visited Russian opposition leader Navalny in hospital after Novichok poisoning
Merkel privately visited Russian opposition leader Navalny in hospital after Novichok poisoning
  • World
  • 2020-09-28 08:49:07Z

Alexei Navalny met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a Berlin hospital where he was recovering from a poisoning that kept him in a coma for weeks, he has revealed. Mr Navalny was discharged from the Charite hospital in Berlin on Wednesday after spending weeks on a ventilator in a medically induced coma. The German media outlet Der Spiegel on Monday quoted unnamed sources saying that Chancellor Merkel went to see Mr Navalny in hospital in a sign of solidarity. The 44-year old Russian politician confirmed the reports later in the day, insisting that there was nothing "secret" about the meeting. "It was more of a private meeting and conversation with the family," he tweeted. "I'm very...

Germany pays tribute to victims of 1980 Oktoberfest bombing
Germany pays tribute to victims of 1980 Oktoberfest bombing
  • US
  • 2020-09-26 13:37:14Z

Senior officials and survivors paid tribute Saturday to the victims of a deadly neo-Nazi attack on Munich's Oktoberfest 40 years ago, as Germany's president warned that far-right extremism remains a persistent problem in the country. The bombing on the evening of Sept. 26, 1980, claimed 13 lives, including that of three children and the attacker, student Gundolf Koehler, a supporter of a banned far-right group. "Right-wing extremism has deep roots in our society," President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said at a memorial event in the Bavarian capital.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: World